is one of the names of the Hindu god, Shiva, the most
revered god in this ancient religion.
The image of Natraj is also known as "dancing
is frequently pictured with his bull, Nandi and his consort,
Parvati who is worshipped as Kali or Durga.
Historians believe that Hinduism was the religion
brought to the sub-continent of India by Aryan invaders
around the times period spanning from 1,400 to 500 BC,
nearly 5,000 years ago.
We do not know a lot about these invaders in that
they remain the source of much mystery and speculation.
We categorize Hinduism as a polytheistic religion,
meaning there are many gods and goddesses that are
worshipped, each with their own responsibility for some
aspect of the workings of our vast universe and in the lives
of their followers. The
three most prominent gods worshipped in Hinduism are Brahma
(the creator), Vishnu (the preserver) and Shiva, also known
as Natraj (the destroyer).
Similar to the Bible in Christianity, the Hindu
religion is based on a set of moral codes, which were
originally in the form of 1,000 religious hymns or poems and
published in a work called the Vedas or "Books of
Natraj is sometimes referred to as "the dancer
of creation, lord of joy and sorrow."
The dancing image captured in popular statues is
meant to symbolize life's ebb and flow.
It also reminds us of the balance between form and
void, as well as the time before the divine created form
from the void. The
statues of Natraj are framed by a circle representing cosmic
energy. If you
look closely at a status of this Hindu god, you will see
that Natraj stands upon a demon, which symbolizes triumph
over spiritual ignorance.
Why does Shiva have this other name - Natraj?
In the Hindu religion, each of the gods may have
incarnations that possess different qualities. What does this mean? Think
about how hard it is to describe the Christian God, we just
say that He's 'all powerful' or 'omnipotent' to make it
easy. This is
in many ways the same concept operating here.
A divine being has so many good qualities that it is
difficult for us as humans to imagine them all in one place
or person. In
the case we are discussing, the many names of Shiva, the
different good qualities that followers imagine a god to
have actually end up having different incarnations.
In some cases, the qualities may be represented by
different gods or goddesses all together.
Therefore, Shiva was based on different qualities he
is attributed with having, and has different names with
Natraj being one of them.
Shiva-Natraj is said to be the god of artistic
skill, which is one attribute that attracts those who
worship the cult of Shiva, which extends from India into
modern Nepal. There are other forms of Shiva in addition to Natraj.
Another popular form depicts Shiva with a small drum
and a trident. If
you travel in India in an area where Shiva is worshipped,
you may see devotees carrying tridents.
They may also smear their bodies with ashes.
The different gods and goddesses and their
incarnations are also associated with their own companions
and traveling animals.
Depending on the name, the appearance they have and
company they can be found in will be different.
With the three major gods and nearly one million
lesser gods and goddesses, you would imagine there would be
a lot of conflict between people drawn to different forms of
This is an interesting aspect of Hinduism, which is
the religion of nearly 80% of the population of India.
One of the primary teachings of this religion is
tolerance, so it is not unusual to have a temple dedicated
to Shiva and a temple dedicated to the Elephant god, Ganesh
very close to one another.
If you were a Hindu, you might be a follower of Kali
and your friend a devotee of Ganesh with no problems.